Li Tianbing, the countryside photographer, holds the Guinness Book of World Records title as the photographer who has worked the greatest number of hours with only natural light. As a young man he exchanged his farm cattle for an old camera designed exclusively for outdoor use. For over fifty years he has walked a circuit of more than 300 villages and towns in western and southern Fujian Province, China, using the same camera to record the inhabitants, utilizing makeshift darkrooms, and washing his prints in the stream.
Addressing the challenge that new technologies are presenting to traditional ways of life in China A Countryside Photographer and His Son documents the life of Li Tianbing, tells the story of his relationship with his son, who runs a modern photography studio in an industrial town, and movingly relates his disbelief when shown the capacities of digital image-making technologies.
Shen Xiao Min is a documentary filmmaker and a recent graduate from the scriptwriting department at the Beijing Film Academy. For a transcription of the subtitles for A Countryside Photographer and his son click here.